Kim Min-Ha took part in a photo shoot and an interview with W Korea, where she discussed how her role as Sunja in “Pachinko” changed her personal life and acting career.
W Korea: Is there anything about you that has changed since you filmed “Pachinko”?
Kim Min-Ha: I learned a lot in less than a year. The most important lesson I learned was to pay close attention to others.
When I was reading the original novel or the script for “Pachinko,” I paid close attention to “how Sunja wanted to talk about herself to me.” While talking with the directors, producers, and other actors, I learned how to listen to people’s stories in a broad and deep way. Previously, I didn’t have much room for myself and I didn’t understand others well. “Pachinko” helped me understand people and learn how to get energy from them. It was eye-opening for me.
You’ve expanded your horizons.
I’m also more relaxed (laugh).
When did you decide you wanted to be an actor?
When I was younger, I was a shy girl who would never consider skipping a class. I didn’t say much on normal days. But I once performed on stage at a school art festival, and my parents were taken aback by how enthusiastically I sang. I enjoyed singing and watching animation, so I enrolled in the practical music academy and the voice actor academy without informing my parents. Then I made the decision to major in theater and film. I was 20 years old when I was cast as an understudy in a play. The main actor was suddenly injured, so I was on stage. I recall the catharsis I felt at the time. ‘Wow, this is how much I enjoy standing in front of someone and exuding energy.’ Ever since that fateful day, I’ve wanted to be an actor.
What was your life like as an actor before “Pachinko”?
When I was in college, I did a lot of short films and music videos, and I worked as a cosmetics model or lookbook model. Following graduation, I taught English to elementary school students, and I taught them as if we were in a play. I kept submitting my profile and auditioning for every available role, whether it was in a musical, drama, or film. I tried everything I could and kept asking friends if they knew of any job openings. When things got tough, I blamed myself. I wouldn’t have been able to play Sunja if I hadn’t gone through those difficult times.
How did you get through those times?
I did some meditating. It took three months at first just to concentrate completely. Every morning, I meditate after focusing on my inner self and believing that it is a process of discovering my true self. It greatly helped me in clearing my mind.
Then you got the part in “Pachinko.”
That’s correct. When the drama is released, I will have many career options, and I believe a lot of things will change. But I’m not going to change myself.
What do you hope to achieve as a newcomer to the acting world?
It’s almost like a promise to myself. I’m hoping I don’t lose myself because I’m actually nervous. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself or unintentionally change myself. I want to do things slowly, one by one, like a quest. I’m hoping I can keep going for a long time without being swayed by outside factors.
“Pachinko,” a drama based on the best-selling novel, is available exclusively on Apple TV+.